Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
‘Carbon footprint’ is the buzzword when it comes to living a greener life. We all have one we shouldn’t, and the fastest way to reduce it is to make your home a greener place.
Your home is probably your main source of pollution. Hard to accept, isn’t it? But once you turn eco-spy, you’ll find ways of making it green.
Everyone’s heard the saying ‘think global, act local.’ Well, your own home is about as local as it gets. And the way you live at home can have worldwide implications.
Let’s start with the all-important carbon footprint that everyone’s talking about at the moment. The main thing about it is, we don’t want one! Or at least, we want a small one, so in this case, size does matter.
Your carbon footprint is the imprint your activities leave on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide. Everything you do at home, from the way you dispose of waste to the temperature on your thermostat, has an impact on the size of your carbon footprint.
And man-made CO2 is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. The net result of this climate change is sadly not going to be lovely hot summers and pleasant, mild winters. Instead, glaciers and sea ice would melt, sea levels would rise, and coastal areas would flood. Inland areas would become hotter and drier, and lakes and rivers could dry up. There would be more droughts, making it hard to grow crops, and some plants and animals might become extinct because of the heat. Hurricanes, tornadoes and other storms may get more common.
Overall, the cost to society, the environment, our health and the economy is likely to far outweigh any benefits.
But we can all help contain global warming, starting with minimising your footprint – and there’s no time like the present. We’ll be looking at ways of reducing your carbon footprint throughout this book, but there are things you can do today, in your home, to reduce your contribution to global warming. Best of all, they should not cost you a penny, and in the long term will save you cash.
- Sign up to a green energy supplier.
- Turn down the central and water heating slightly.
- Use dishwashers, washing machines and driers to full capacity, or use half-load programmes.
- Don’t leave appliances on standby.
- Hang out the washing to dry rather than tumble-drying.
- Fit energy-saving light bulbs.
- Insulate your hot water tank, your loft and your walls.
- Recycle and reuse.
- Save water by harvesting rainwater, reusing ‘grey’ water and cutting down on hosing.
Apart from global warming, general pollution threatens our health, crops and wildlife. You can help reduce pollution with all of the above steps. As a bonus, you could also switch to organic food, and use fewer chemicals around the home.
Once you’ve got the ball rolling, make sure your whole household is involved. Get teenagers to switch off gadgets and lights when not in use; explain to the kids how recycling works and ask them to help you sort your waste into the right bins; persuade Granny to share her make-do-and-mend tips and Grandad his compost recipe. Encourage the whole family to cut back on water usage, for instance by not leaving taps running; and get everyone used to having the house slightly cooler. And just watch your carbon footprint shrink!